At the best of times matric exams throw the entire household into chaos. As the parent of a 2020 matric student, you’d be forgiven for asking: Why me? Why this year?! Matric is such an important rite of passage for both teens and their parents, and the global pandemic has played havoc with this special year in your child’s life. It can be incredibly hard to hold the space for your matric’s anxieties, disappointments and stresses, while dealing with your own fears, expectations and emotions about this tumultuous time.
The good news is that parents are actually far from helpless bystanders, and research shows that there is a lot that parents can do to provide much-needed support that will help your teen manage the stresses of writing matric in 2020. “Helping your child be emotionally, physically and mentally prepared is the greatest thing that you can do in this exceptional year,” says Counselling Psychologist, Lauren Martin who is on the panel at an upcoming SACAP (the South African College of Applied Psychology) webinar, Parents’ Guide to Matric Support. “Understanding the impact of emotional well-being on their performance and coming up with practical ways to guide them through their studies and exam time will help you, your matric student, and the whole family navigate the experience with far less stress and chaos, and with better outcomes.”
Joining Lauren Martin on the webinar panel is Esmarie Cilliers, a registered Counsellor in private practice with a special interest in Developmental Psychology and Personal Growth. She says, “Studying for success is not a question of luck or talent alone. Researchers agree that students who have a strategy or a plan for how they are going to study, achieve the best outcomes. Students who follow a plan and scientific methods learn more easily, retain information for longer periods of time, and save themselves hours of study time which enables them to have more balance in their lives.”
One of the key aspects of how matrics and their parents approach the matric exams rests in their attitudes and perspectives on the challenges, which have been amplified by all the disruptions of the pandemic. On the one hand, it has served up anxieties and disappointments, and on the other it has provided an extraordinary life experience where the matric student can embrace their growing independence and tap into their inner characteristics such as resilience and courage. There is the choice to view this incredibly challenging time as an opportunity to improve self-discipline, time management and study skills. Drawing on our own inner attributes can help us to harness the motivation, will power, creativity and coping skills that will unlock the 2020 matric cohorts’ potential and empower them to succeed.
With a broader perspective, parents can also help in promoting and supporting practical, daily ways of taking physical, mental and emotional care of oneself. Sufficient sleep, supportive nutrition and being physically active every day too often fall by the wayside when study pressures mount. Yet, these are the very activities that support emotional well-being and optimal intellectual performance.
To find out more about how easy it can be for your child to get physically, mentally and emotionally in shape for the exams, parents can tune into SACAP’s free webinar Parents’ Guide to Matric Support on Saturday, 26 September at 10:00 am. There will be two presentations by the experts focused on the importance of emotional well-being and planning for matric. There will also be a Q&A session so that you can address any personal challenges in a supportive and caring environment.